Elderly woman alarmed by company's 'harassment'
Shirley Werseen, 76, was harassed by a security company she signed up with but no longer wants services from, according to her son.
The Courtenay resident suffers from early-onset dementia. Although she is still able to live on her own, her son Danny Mearns was put in charge of her financial affairs by a lawyer.
According to Mearns, Werseen has been with Vigilant Security — a Canadian holding company of U.S.-based Pinnacle Security — for about a year.
However, the alarms kept going off and scaring her, so she didn't want the system anymore.
"She's got kids in the neighbourhood that think it's funny to come and rattle the door and the alarms go off and it scares the hell out of her, so she turned it off about four months ago," explained Mearns.
But even though she's not actually using the home alarm system anymore, Mearns said the company demanded that his mother stay with them or pay $1,000 to get out of a contract that she signed. And he said they've been calling her repeatedly to tell her this.
"They harass her, they phone her at like seven in the morning," Mearns explained. "She's losing sleep and she's just all worried about it."
Pinnacle Security Corporate Communications vice-president Stuart Dean said that he can't tell how often, or what time collections calls are made, but that the account has been "delinquent" for over six months, and that the account could even have gone on to a collections company.
Mearns said that Pinnacle Security is the company that called, and that he wants a copy of the agreement before paying the $1,000.
He said his mother's memory is failing and she doesn't remember where she put her copy of the contract — or even whether or not she actually signed one.
Dean said Werseen did sign a contract, and completed a 'welcome call' with a customer service representative.
"Our welcome call is very thorough to verify terms and conditions of an agreement," he added. "We actually record those conversations as part of our quality standards."
But, between his mother, his sister and himself, Mearns said the family has repeatedly asked the company for a copy of the agreement to be sent out for the last few months, and they have not yet received one.
Dean said proof of the contract will be sent out to Mearns.
He also said that if Werseen is admitted to a care facility, the account will be cancelled.
Mearns said he doesn't plan on admitting his mother to a care facility to avoid the bill; he said he will deal with the account once he sees proof of an agreement. However, he wants to warn other people.
"I thought it might be good for other people to be wary of what they sign and who they deal with," said Mearns. "They try to hard sell old people and then you're locked into a contract."